With but one class in jewelry making under my belt, I began fabricating jewelry for Heather Laurie and her partner Phoenix Sun in 1990. After working for them for three years, I became a full-time designer and partner in the business, “Heather and Phoenix,” a wholesale and retail art-to-wear jewelry studio.
In 1996, I created a new line of sterling silver, gold and semi-precious metal jewelry, named “Rio Plata” and began marketing at the same venues. In 1997 Phoenix and I bought out Heather Laurie and we carried on with that line of jewelry and fashion accessories under the new name of “Stryder and Phoenix.” Together we did as many as 30 juried art and trade shows per year and serviced dozens of wholesale accounts, nationwide, including Nordstroms and Henry Bendel. From 1990 until 2005, if we weren’t at a show, we were either getting ready for a show, on our way to a show, or getting back from one. Over that period of time, our work was viewed by millions of people and worn by thousands. We frequently won awards in juried shows, for our displays as well as our art. Our work could be spotted in the film “Waiting to Exhale,” and exclusive editions of our jewelry were sold in the Coldwater Creek catalog.
It was fun designing and even making the jewelry, but the small business aspect of it was a going. We had subcontractors and suppliers, inventory and huge customer databases. The economy was booming under Clinton. It’s the last time we had a budget surplus. It was also a time of easy credit so everybody had tons of plastic to max out. Creatively speaking, it was encouraging to see our work sell well, but I soon grew weary of talking about my occupation when I was a jeweler. I kept trying to get into a writing program or better yet, sell a manuscript. I couldn’t wait to say I was a writer, not a jeweler.